Community Messages and Statements

 

Jan. 27, 2023

A reflection on the news from Memphis

Community:

We find ourselves in a situation that has become all too familiar: A Black motorist is dead following an exchange with police officers.

While the facts surrounding the death of Tyre Nichols are still being uncovered, we know that five police officers have been charged in what media outlets are describing as a violent death.

For many of us, watching the murder of yet another Black man is too much. The details of this case, the persistence of tragedies such as these, and the heightened risks that some in our society face—simply because of our skin color—resonate deeply with me and many others in our community.

As an educational institution that is deeply committed to advancing equity and diversity, we must be proactive in calling out and confronting systemic racism. We must work to bridge the deep gap of mistrust between law-enforcement officers and the communities they have pledged to protect, including those that are predominantly Black and African American.

In the immediate aftermath of the release of the video, we join our community and University partners in holding space for students, faculty, and staff to speak out about their experiences and concerns, share their grief, and address their trauma.

There are a number of on-campus opportunities and resources to support our community members during this difficult time:

  • Beginning this weekend: The Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Inclusion & Belonging will provide students with space to process and reflect on these events. The sixth floor of the William Pitt Union will be open from 12 noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and from 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
  • On Monday (Jan. 30): Student Affairs will open the sixth-floor space at the WPU from 3 to 6 p.m. to meet with any student impacted by this news. If you would like to talk about what you’ve seen and heard, there will be staff available to listen.
  • On Wednesday (Feb. 1) from 1 to 2 p.m.: The Office for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; the Division of Student Affairs; and the Center for Race & Social Problems will hold space in Room 548 of the William Pitt Union for faculty and staff to engage in dialogue.
  • At any time: You may also reach out to the Office for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion at 412-648-7860 or diversity@pitt.edu. Mental health resources are available for students through the University Counseling Center at 412-648-7930; staff and faculty are encouraged to contact Life Solutions at 1-866-647-3432, which provides 24/7 crisis counseling and support.

Sincerely,

Clyde Wilson Pickett, Ed.D.
Chief Diversity Officer
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion


Jan. 24, 2023

Resources available following California attacks

At what should be a time of joyous celebration of the Lunar New Year, Americans once again are grieving victims of violence following the tragic shootings in California. We mourn the lives of those lost and will keep all of the people affected in our thoughts.

We know these acts of terror have, in particular, greatly impacted the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Incidents of mass violence can trigger feelings of confusion, fear, helplessness, and overwhelming anxiety, and manifest in a variety of symptoms. If these incidents are causing you stress or triggering underlying trauma, help is available both on- and off-campus.

Please reach out and know you are not alone.

Mental Health America offers suggestions for coping with your feelings, as well as specific resources for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community at its website.

Support is available through the University Counseling Center (UCC). Students are encouraged to utilize the drop-in services, no appointment necessary, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. At the UCC, students can connect with a counselor to develop a plan that best supports their needs. Additional services are also available including self-help tools, workshops, group counseling, and individual counseling, among others.

Additional Resources:

University of Pittsburgh Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: Life Solutions, through the University’s Office of Human Resources, provides 24-hour crisis support at 1-866-647-3432 or online.

UPMC’s resolve Crisis Center: resolve offers 24-hour crisis counseling and intervention services for all residents of Allegheny County at 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226) or online.

National Resources

Mental Health America: MHA offers specific resources targeted to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including first-generation Americans. Text "MHA" to 741741 for free text-based support; call 1-800-969-6642; or visit the MHA website.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Disaster Distress Helpline: Call or text 1-800-985-5990 for immediate support and counseling. Interpreters are available in more than 100 languages for non-native English speakers.


Jan. 12, 2023

May we use 2023 as a year to serve

The beginning of the spring semester provides the opportunity for us to prioritize our focus on the year ahead and on our new year’s resolutions. I hope the start to your year has been positive.

While we’re focusing our attention on our goals, I encourage all of us to think about ways we can serve our community (and beyond) to advance equity, inclusion, accessibility, and opportunity for everyone. As we prepare to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. next week, may we be reminded that service to others was central to his message.

In a famous sermon delivered in 1968, just two months before he was murdered by an assassin, Dr. King urged his church congregation to avoid the “Drum Major Instinct”—the feeling that we should be leading a parade in our own honor, with all eyes watching us. Dr. King pointed out that the Christian Bible’s definition of “greatness” doesn’t include fancy clothes, a fine home, or other material wealth; instead, he said, the greatest among us are those who are called to serve the less fortunate.

By that definition, Dr. King was saying that every person can achieve greatness, because everyone has the capacity for service. So as we remember Dr. King on Monday, let’s all reflect on the various ways we are currently serving, and preparing to serve, the community both on- and off-campus.

The University has traditionally encouraged each of us to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day by volunteering in some service to the community. We encourage you to support MLK Social Justice Week activities at Pitt.

Before we know it, February will be here, and we’ll be observing Black History Month. The theme this year, as selected by a national group of historians and scholars, is “Black Resistance.”

The theme represents an opportunity for each of us to reflect not just on the history of struggle for equity, humanity, and social justice, but also on the need for contemporary efforts to promote progress. The need for Black resistance to confront injustice and encourage activism, social justice, and racial equality is alive and well.

Throughout 2023, may we be reminded that when we answer the call to resist oppression in all forms and act against intolerance, we are performing a greater service to humanity, just as Dr. King encouraged us to do.

Your OEDI team is excited about the semester ahead and the opportunity—and need—to advance our work. While the values of social justice inform our activities all year long, next week is a welcome opportunity to gather and celebrate those values, as well as the life of Martin Luther King Jr., who made the ultimate sacrifice to uphold them.

I’m looking forward to our time together this semester and the various events we have planned across our campuses next week and beyond. I look forward to celebrating social justice and honoring Dr. King’s legacy with you next week.

Sincerely,
Clyde Wilson Pickett
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer

Dec. 7, 2022

Here's to 2022—and warm wishes for 2023

The end of the calendar year presents an opportunity for us to think about where we've been over the past 12 months, including all we have experienced and accomplished. It also presents an opportunity for us to think about what we want to achieve in the next year.

As a team, the OEDI and our Pitt community experienced a number of successes in 2022. Yet we also know that we have a lot of work to do to impact equity, diversity, and inclusion. We understand that our work doesn’t end, and it requires collaboration and commitment as we pursue the goal of an equitable and inclusive environment for our University community, our Western Pennsylvania home, and beyond.

I’d like to spotlight some of the areas where we're planning improvements. Front and center is the need for us to prioritize education and prevention of sexual harassment and violence. We've heard loud and clear from our community, we’ve taken your concerns to heart, and we're addressing them. Our Title IX office is building for the future and we will continue to share more information on ways we are working to improve in the months ahead.

We also are focusing our attention on retaining and developing a diverse team of faculty and staff at Pitt. While we know our effort to attract new colleagues is having an impact, our work to retain and develop community members is an area that requires our full attention. We look forward to working with you and our colleagues around Pitt to make a difference in this space. I hope you'll continue to walk with us on this journey and continue to encourage us when we need to do better.

Focusing on our team successes is important; so, too is the need to reflect on our individual experiences. The end of the year and semester both provide an opportunity for us to review all we have experienced. It’s a chance for us to tally our progress towards our goals, and perhaps, most importantly, an opportunity to examine our self-care.

In 2022-23, the Year of Emotional Well-Being at Pitt, let’s remember the most important part of our community is the people. We should take this time to reflect, recharge and rejuvenate our thoughts and energy for the time ahead. We can’t care for or support others unless we do the same for ourselves first.

I wish you well on the final weeks of 2022. However you mark the end of the calendar year, I hope it's safe and fun, and that you feel ready to take on the second half of the academic year.

We look forward to seeing you in 2023!

Sincerely,
Clyde Wilson Pickett
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion
Chief Diversity Officer

Nov. 21, 2022

Dear Pitt Community Members:

Following the tragic events in Colorado, I would like to remind everyone that the University of Pittsburgh is committed to supporting the health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff.

If you are a member or an ally of our LGBTQIA+ community and you are feeling overwhelmed or traumatized: Remember that support is available. You are never alone.

Although Pitt students are currently on Thanksgiving break until Nov. 28, counseling services are within reach both on campus and throughout the Pittsburgh region. I have identified some key services and resources, available locally and nationally, below.

As always: Please do not hesitate to reach out for support if you or someone you know is in need.

Sincerely,
Clyde Wilson Pickett
Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Local Resources

University of Pittsburgh Counseling Center: Open to all students from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 22 and 23. Closed Nov. 24-27 in observance of Thanksgiving. Telephone support will remain available through the holiday at 412-648-7930. For more information: https://www.studentaffairs.pitt.edu/cc/

University of Pittsburgh Faculty and Staff Assistance Program: Life Solutions, through the University’s Office of Human Resources, provides 24-hour crisis support. 1-866-647-3432 or https://www.hr.pitt.edu/current-employees/work-life-balance/lifesolutions

UPMC’s resolve Crisis Center: resolve offers 24-hour crisis counseling and intervention services for all residents of Allegheny County. 1-888-7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226) or https://www.upmc.com/services/behavioral-health/resolve-crisis-services

National Resources

LGBT National Hotline: Anonymous, free, confidential support and referrals to local resources. Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Mondays through Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Eastern time on Saturdays. 888-843-4564 or https://www.lgbthotline.org/national-hotline.html

LGBT National Youth Talkline: Free, confidential peer support for the LGBTQ community, focused on young adults up to age 25. Hours are 4 p.m. to midnight Eastern time Mondays through  Fridays and noon to 5 p.m. Eastern time on Saturdays. 800-246-7743 or https://www.lgbthotline.org/youth-talkline.html

Trans Lifeline: Trans Lifeline is a hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people who are experiencing a crisis. They will do their best to connect the caller with local services that can help. 877-565-8860 or http://www.translifeline.org

The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project offers crisis counseling and support to LGBTQ young people and maintains a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline. 866-488-7386 or www.thetrevorproject.org


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